Thai Court Ruling Revoking Part of Didanosine Patent Could Set Precedent, Opinion Piece States
The recent ruling by a Thai court ordering drug maker Bristol-Myers Squibb to amend its patent on didanosine has "opened a new chapter of debate with regard to access to treatment" for people with HIV/AIDS in Thailand, Mukdawan Sakboon writes in an opinion piece for Thailand's Nation (Sakboon, Nation, 10/5). Thailand's Central Intellectual Property and International Trade Court ruled last week that part of Bristol-Myers' patent on the drug, marketed as Videx EC, was invalid and that the drug company has the exclusive right to produce didanosine only in doses from five milligrams to 100 milligrams, while other drug companies could produce the drug in larger doses. The ruling could pave the way for state-owned drug makers to produce didanosine, a move that AIDS advocates say could cut the price of the drug in half. The suit was filed on behalf of the AIDS ACCESS Foundation, the Thai Network for People Living with HIV/AIDS and two AIDS patients; the plaintiffs have filed a separate suit to force the drug company to completely withdraw its patent on didanosine (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/2). Sakboon states that the ruling is significant because it is the first case of its kind to be decided by the court and has "set a precedent" for the second case. Bristol-Myers officials have not made an official statement on the ruling, but it is likely that the decision will be appealed to the Thai Supreme Court. Whatever the outcome of the court cases, the consequences "will have great impact on a country hard hit by the AIDS epidemic where access to drug[s] is a big issue," and will serve as a measure of how governments should balance intellectual property protections with public health needs, Sakboon concludes (Nation, 10/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.